On Distributing Distributed Technology, Long Tails, and Scaling

Ton Zijlstra, Interdependent Thoughts, Nov 01, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In any technology cycle (including learning technology) "Long tail forming as an adoption pattern is a good way then to see if broad distribution is being achieved," writes Ton Zijllstra. This is the proposition he asserts of Mastodon, which has a big head (or a big spike) of a few very large instances, but only a stubby tail of very few small-scale adopters. To expand the tail you need (among other things) a "lower thresholds of adoption (technically, financially, socially, intellectually)." This is the contradiction most technology faces: easier adoption is best facilitated by a few large instances (think MoodleRooms, WordPress.com, Facebook, Mastodon.social) but for a genuinely decentralized network you need to minimize these large instances and promote the long tail. Because in decentralized technology, it's all tail. Image via Alan Levine.

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